Driving Saner

27 04 2008

It’s time to face facts, friends. By all accounts, gas prices aren’t going away. While you can chase the best prices near you with GasBuddy.com, the more time-efficient solution to saving money at the pump is watching your aggressive driving. You may immediately say, as many people do, that you are an above-average driver who doesn’t speed or tailgate or commit any other bad road behavior. But if you really think about it, when was the last time you drove with a little chip on your shoulder? Today? Don’t worry; you’re not alone. With all the other aggressive drivers surrounding you on the roads, it can be hard not to blend in with the crowd in the name of self-defense.

Think with me now, however, of the benefits of conscious driving. Hopefully you are already aware and alert behind the wheel; I am talking about a reflective driving style that pays off in dollars and sense. Fueleconomy.gov and ConsumerReports.org both offer excellent online resource centers about increasing gas mileage, and besides keeping your car’s maintanance current, I think the most important takeaway messages are these: drive slower, and idle as little as possible.

Most people know that driving over 55 mph decreases your overall gas mileage, but the rate of acceleration is also a large factor. Hasty acceleration and braking simply use up more gas, which means lost fuel efficiency. Examine your own habits and you’ll probably laugh: how many times do you rev up the engine when you know you’re going from one red light to the next? And do you really need to go 70 up that hill? Allowing yourself to take it slow(er) will benefit your bank account and your peace of mind: by dropping out of the literal race on the roads, you are buying yourself some (relatively more) tranquil moments.

Idling is a more little-known gas waster, but it’s a serious problem, both environmentally and practically. Consider these startling facts from IdealBite: “An idling car creates twice the emissions of a car in motion.” “Idling 15 minutes per weekday can cost you up to $100 in wasted gas over the course of a year.” And, “American drivers use more than 2 bil gal of fuel each year while idling.” (Read the rest here.) The facts speak for themselves: turn off your car if you’re going to be stopped for a few minutes. I’ve even turned off my car at a really long light. Restarting your car is not bad for your engine (as some have thought), and unlike idling, it doesn’t waste some resources (oil) while damaging others (air and water).

I hope driving more mindfully brings greater peace into your commute and trips both near and far.




2 responses

3 05 2008

I’ve even turned off my car at a really long light. It’s not bad for your engine, but it does waste some resources (oil) while damaging others (air and water).

What did you mean, idling wastes resources or restarting your car wastes resources?

4 05 2008


Thanks for bringing that error to my attention. It has been fixed. Hopefully you didn’t think I really meant that restarting your car wastes oil and pollutes the air and water!

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